London: Printed by John Windet for John Harrison, 1591. Fourth edition. Small quarto (7 5/8 x 5 1/4 inches; 194 x 134 mm). , 52 leaves. Black letter. With twelve superb woodcuts in the text, one at the beginning of, and appropriate to, each "Aeglogue." These blocks were used in the five quarto editions (1579, 1581, 1586, 1591, and 1597) and in the folio edition of 1611. Woodcut printer’s device on title, title within a woodcut border (McKerrow & Ferguson 198), woodcut head- and tail-pieces and initials. Some very light, early color to the first woodcut. All 16th-century editions of the Shepheards Calender are rare, this is the first complete copy to appear at auction since the Arthur Houghton sale in 1980.
Nineteenth-century full polished calf. Boards double-ruled in gilt. Spine stamped and lettered in gilt. Board edges gilt, gilt dentelles. Marbled endpapers. Edges speckled red. Some minor repairs to verso of title-page, slightly affecting the woodcut border. Title-page lightly soiled trimmed close at the fore-edge. Leaves *2-4 just slightly short on top margin. A bit of foxing and soiling throughout. A dampstain to lower margin of signature I. Silk tie pagemarker. Previous owner's Robert Pirie and Chatsworth bookplates on front pastedown. Early ink signature "Tho. Rad 1705" on top margin of title-page. Some neat early marginalia. Overall a very good copy.
"Twelve eclogues, one for each month of the year. The first and last eclogues are laments by the shepherd Colin Clout (a persona of Spenser), because the fair Rosalind does not return his love. The remaining ten are dialogues on love and other subjects among the shepherds" (Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia). Grolier, Langland to Wither, 229. Johnson, Spenser, 4. STC 23092. Very Good (Item #1555)
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